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Breast Cancer Now respond to today's Ministerial statement, regarding high risk screening error

Responding, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now said:

“We’re deeply concerned that certain women* known to be at a very high risk of breast cancer, have not been offered the vital screening that they are entitled to and would give them the best opportunity of detecting the disease early, when survival rates are almost 100%.**

“This news will undoubtably cause huge anxiety for the women affected and their loved ones, and it is vital NHS England take swift action to ensure these women receive the screening and support they need. The government and NHS England must also act urgently to identify and address the underlying issues that caused this error and provide firm reassurance that such a failure will not happen again.

“We strongly encourage those impacted to take up their screening offer when invited***and contact the dedicated helpline set up by NHS England with any questions or concerns.**** Anyone affected by this announcement, can also speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nursing team for support and information, via our free, confidential helpline: 0808 800 6000.” 


Notes to Editor: 

·         *The very high-risk cohort is defined as women with a lifetime risk for developing breast cancer of 40% or greater. This error has impacted some of the women who are at a very high risk as a result of undergoing radiotherapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 35 to treat some types of lymphoma.  

·         This is an historic cohort of women who from 1962 to 2003 received radiotherapy treatment above the waist to treat Hodgkin lymphoma. Because of their treatment, this group were at an increased risk of breast cancer and therefore in 2003, clinicians were asked to contact both previous and current patients to refer them for annual checks.

·         **Cancer Survival in England, cancers diagnosed 2016 to 2020, followed up to 2021. NHS Digital. 

·         ***The government expects all women affected to be offered a scan within the next 3 months.

·         ****The NHS England dedicated helpline which will support women affected with any enquiries on this issue can be reached on 0345 8778962. This will initially operate 7 days a week - Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm and Weekends 10am to 4pm (local call charges apply). 

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